Sunday, April 11, 2010

Political Correctness and Me

(of language) not objectionable, especially in terms of avoiding offense based on race, gender, religion, ideology or any other social grouping such as disability.

Usage notes

...sometimes (also) extended to cover political ideology and behavior, curriculum content, and many areas affected by law, regulation, and public pressure, and is often used pejoratively.
-Wikitionary definition of 'politically correct' (PC).

Many internet users euphemize and generalize, not to avoid causing offense, but labels of "commie", "Godless" or "Internet Hindu". The critic or perceived offender is then expected to counter a volley of criticisms of the category he is boxed into. The ensuing defensiveness causes indiscretions like: "all religions teach us love and tolerance", "all religions are (equally) bad", "all politicians are (equally) useless", etc.

This approach is wrong on at least two levels:

1. PC-statements are partial truths or completely false. One can conclude all religions teach love and tolerance only on deliberately overlooking or distorting available facts. This is dishonesty. This behavior follows from the flawed idea that pot must not call kettle black. No, both pot and kettle must call the other black, if relevant, and if possible, without contempt. For, the blackness cannot be removed without showing and acknowledging it.

Moreover, this defensiveness is a tacit acceptance of guilt merely by being born in a community or supporting an ideology. I am not responsible for misdeeds of others born in same community as me. I am not answerable for deeds of the ideologue, unless his ideology I support is the cause.

2. PC causes intellectual laziness. By saying "all politicians are same", I am discrediting the better ones. Through such generalizations, I would shy away from obligation to minutely analyze the available data before infering. PC will prevent incremental improvements in politics enabled through noticing and acting upon subtle differences between politicians.

I avoid and disapprove of PC, though I use some out of fear of physical harm and violating law, and those not doing even that can certainly hold me in contempt. I greatly admire two honest and courageous (for using their real identities) persons - Atanu Dey (click) and Marvi Sirmed (click).


  1. Good write... though I try my best to bash everything that has religion or politics in it.. but I must agree with most of your above mentioned views... and at the end of your piece, you mentioned Marvi who I too believe she's the most admirable advocate of what is not wrong and rational.. keep writing.

  2. Ketan, liked your point of view and appreciate it - in terms of understanding it. See, lot of things around us happen because we all want to fit in. I have two different takes on this in my two vary differently slanted posts (with a similar core) but I'm guessing you'd like these. Let me know what you think: and

  3. Could you please explain it to me in Hindi. I have lost the ability to grasp such hard and tough words/sentences.

    P.S: I would like to understand it as it seemed interesting to me

  4. Yes, honesty requires courage...I agree with you on all points but I also feel that to live in society, one can't always be honest...

    I was wondering if it is possible to change the colours of your blog as it's quite difficult to read...

  5. Good points, Ketan.

    Online honesty particularly needs courage because criticism to one's viewpoint often comes in bulk!

    I agree with Sraboney that if we want to live in society it's hard to always be honest...

    I feel that people who use PC statements are particularly lazy- they simply avoid stating their own opinion.

  6. PC has reached such heights esp. in the US that it has started affecting clear thinking and discussion...While I think it is required in some situations, I don't think one should ALWAYS edit one's thoughts...We can discuss even sensitive issues like race, religion, political views and gender issues without offending others...We just need to choose our words carefully because words are not words, they are a powerful tool invented by humans to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions...There's no point offending others just to get our point across...Will a discussion on Asians change if they were referred to as Asians and not Chinks?

  7. PC-statements are partial truths or completely false - now is that a generalization, how can all pc statements never be true..
    re the topic, perhaps i didn't understand the context completely..
    on pc, i feel its more about attitude and intentions, and not just about words.

  8. Is it necessary to be cavil about each and every thing that is being said / typed? There are always going to be exceptions to the stereotype, but then it is not necessary to bring it up each and every time.


Well-articulated disagreement would be a very good indicator that I was understood, and would be appreciated more than perfunctory agreement or praise. But of course, you could agree and praise...

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